Category: synth punk

New Video: ADULT. Releases an Uneasy and Cringe-Inducing Visual for Glitchy “Fools (We Are . . .)”

Throughout their 25 year history, acclaimed Detroit-based multimedia and electronic music production and artist duo ADULT. — the husband and wife team of Adam Lee Miller and Nicola Kuperus — have a sprawling catalog of material released through  Mute RecordsGhostly InternationalThrill JockeyThird Man Records and a list of other labels that has seen the duo obscure and blur lines between genres and styles in a cohesive fashion in the album format.

“but for this we wanted something that’s falling apart.” Becoming Undone, ADULT.’s ninth album reportedly sees the duo explicitly aiming for that goal, while simultaneously rejecting and reflecting the planetary discord that inspired and informed it. Written between November 2020 and April 2021, Miller and Kuperus kickstarted the creative process through additions to the rig: a vocal loop pedal for Kuperus and Roland percussion pads for Miller. They also reconnected with some of their earliest influences including Test Department and Throbbing Gristle’s 20 Jazz Funk Greats, which helped spark a series of fruitful and frenetic sessions, centered on themes of impermanence and dissonance. “We weren’t interested in melody or harmony since we didn’t see the world having that,” ADULT.’s Miller bluntly reasons.

While there are still plenty of the dance floor bangers the duo is known for, Becoming Undone is also informed by deep, personal loss: Kuperus’ father died during the height of the pandemic, just before the duo were about to start working on the album. As his hospice caretakers, she and Miller faced the banality finality, surrounded by objects drained of meaning — “the joy of having a body, but also the drudgery of having one,” they say.

The end result is an album that crackles with revulsion and dissent, and it seemingly equal parts exorcism and denunciation, centered around a breadth of vocal effects: Kuperus at times sounds alternately indignant and possessed, decrying the crimes, fears, and failings of a deluded, broken world. “Humans have always been pretty terrible,” Kuperus explains. “But every year the compromises of culture just accelerate.”

“Fools (We Are . . . ) is a glitchy and uneasy bit of EBM centered around stuttering beats, dense layers of arpeggiated synths paired with an unhinged and desperate vocal performance by Kuperus, who sings lyrics describing the sensation of being stuck in a seemingly endless and foolish loop of the same ol’ things while everything around them falls apart.

The recently released, self-created video for “Fools (We Are)” is a surrealist fever dream featuring a clown in a bathroom. Initially mischievous, we see the clown playing with the toilet paper and sanitary toilet seat covers, before she daintily pretends to use the toilet. The video turns increasingly surreal when the clown goes through the repetitive actions of having to use the bathroom — with all the toilets backing up and overflowing. It’s a menacing and unpleasant nightmare.

The video’s concept can trace its origins to an idea to combine Kuperus’s recurring performance of the clown/fool theme and a series of drawings that Miller had always waned to turn into a sculptural installation — The Golden Fountains. “Inspiration came from performances by Paul McCarthy’s ‘Painter’ to Bruce Nauman’s ‘Clown Torture.’ The sculptural work of Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ to Robert Gober’s ‘Two urinals (in 2 parts),’ and the album artwork of Fad Gadget’s ‘Incontinent.’” The duo explain. “The toilet is a universal motif, a shared human situation or in some cases shituation. We are all fools in one way or another, from war to waste to societal trends in ridiculous human behavior.”

New Video: People Museum Releases a Brooding Yet Club Friendly Banger

People Museum is a rising New Orleans-based art pop/dance pop act. Inspired by Afro-beat, hip-hop, choral, marching band music, the duo — Jeremy Phipps (trombone, production) and Claire Givens (vocals, keys) — can trace their origins back to 2016: Phipps and Givens were eager to start a music project that incorporated the feelings and vibes of their hometown. Founded with the expressed intention of bringing nature to the future, the New Orleans-based duo’s sound and aesthetic seamlessly meshes their hometown’s beloved and world famous brass band tradition with the Crescent City’s synth heavy, progressive underground scene.

Givens and Phipps’ latest effort I Could Only See The Night EP is slated for an April 9, 2021 release through Community Records and Strange Daisy Records. The EP features a mix of songs made during pandemic-related quarantines last year with songs the duo initially created during the first few months of the duo’s collaboration. Thematically, the EP is reportedly a contemplation on our past, how we are making sense of where we have ended — and as a result, learning how to be more malleable with our visions of what the future could and should be. The songs are an attempt to offer a bit of light in our very dark times while opening space for the listener to reflect, dance or feel joy.

“Forever,” I Could Only See The Night’s latest single is a Larry Levan-era house music influenced club banger that’s full of brooding, late night regret and trepidation centered around shimmering Giorgio Moroder-like synth arpeggios, skittering beats, Phipps’ mournful and melodic trombone played through reverb and delay pedal and Givens’ achingly plaintive vocals. You can literally feel the song’s narrator spiraling into indecision, regret and despair — although they’re desperately trying not to do so.

Directed by Riley Teahan, the recently released video is a brooding fever dream following a series of women trapped within their own thoughts, late at night. Teahan, the video’s director on the video:

“flashing light, thoughts that keep you up at night:
when I think about forever my head starts to spin.
caught in a cycle, the mind is a spiral staircase.
how long did you know it was time to go
before you decided to leave?

“‘Forever’ is a song about cycles and liberation. I know well the feeling of spiraling, how easily you can lose yourself. I asked women to embody a complicated moment of escape, flee, freedom, run, don’t look back.”

New Video: Emerging French Act Voie 81 Releases a Shimmering, Synth Pop Banger

Deriving their name from the French of word for “track” while simultaneously being a bit of a pun for the French word for voice voix and for 1981, a paradigm shifting year that saw an incredible array of changes in technology and across society, the Paris-band electro pop/New Wave duo Voie 81 prominently features three female vocalists hailing from Paris, Madrid, and Berlin, who sing unifying and socially conscious lyrics in German, English, Spanish and French.

The act’s full-length debut Ralentir which means “slow down” in French finds the act further developing a sound that’s heavily influenced by the analog synth sound of the 80s while thematically touches upon humans’ resistance to an unfair and unjust world and the hope for a better, fairer world. The album’s first single “Nirvana” is a euphoric track centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, angular guitars and an arena friendly hook paired with vocals delivered in an ethereal yet sultry French. Sonically, the track finds the emerging French act nodding at early-to-mid 1980s New Order, Giorgio Moroder, Tour de France-era Kraftwerk and even contemporaries like DBFC.

Directed by the members of Voie 81, the recently released video for “Nirvana” is set in an industrial train yard as we follow, a boombox carrying dude and a gorgeous dancer, hang out and dance together before pulling out to follow a train track across the French train ride. The video manages to be playful and decidedly DIY.

Throughout the course of the past year, I’ve written quite a bit about Carré,  a Los Angeles-based indie electro rock act featuring:

  • Julien Boyé (drums, percussion, vocals): Boyé has had stints as a touring member of Nouvelle Vague and James Supercave. Additionally, he has a solo recording act Acoustic Resistance, in which he employs rare instruments, which he has collected from all over the world.
  • Jules de Gasperis (drums, vocals, synths, production and mixing): de Gasperis is a Paris-born, Los Angeles-based studio owner. Growing up in Paris, he sharpened his knowledge of synthesizers, looping machines and other electronics around the same time that JusticeSoulwax and Ed Banger Records exploded into the mainstream.
  • Kevin Baudouin (guitar, vocals, synth, production): Baudouin has lived in Los Angeles the longest of the trio — 10 years — and he has played with a number of psych rock acts, developing a uniquely edgy approach to guitar, influenced by Nels ClineJonny Greenwood and Marc Ribot.

Deriving their name for the French word for “playing tight” and “on point,” the Los Angeles-based trio formed last year, and as the band’s Jules de Gasperis explains in press notes, “The making of our band started with this whole idea of having two drummers perform together. It felt like a statement. We always wanted to keep people moving and tend to focus on the beats first when we write.”

The act specializes in a French electronica-inspired sound that blends aggressive, dark and chaotic elements with hypnotic drum loops while thematically, their work generally touches upon conception, abstraction and distortion of reality centered around geometric shapes and patterns, and a surrealistic outlook on our world.

The trio released their self-titled EP earlier this year, and the EP featured “Urgency,” a track centered round a bed of tweeter and woofer rocking beats, layers of shimmering synth arpeggios, bursts of slashing guitars and gauzy, electronic textures. And while being hypnotic and dance floor friendly, “Urgency” possessed a murky and menacing air that brought Ministry and Pretty Hate Machine-era Nine Inch Nails to mind.

Recently, the members of the JOVM mainstay act partnered with local act President Drone, who completely reworked “Urgency” into a minimalist yet propulsive track centered around stuttering beats, wobbling and shimmering synth arpeggios, industrial clink and clang that pushes Carré’s sound into an even more dystopian and murky direction.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Pleasure Motel Releases a Sensual Visual for Thumping and Propulsive New Single

Dave Tudi is a Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who has been the creative mastermind behind a number of musical projects I’ve written about throughout the course of this site’s nine-plus year history. His latest project, Pleasure Motel is a minimalist synth pop project with a sleazy and menacing, industrial-leaning sound that recalls Ministry, early Nine Inch Nails and Suicide. 

Tudi’s latest Pleasure Motel single “Love Songs” continues a run of minimalist and propulsive tracks centered around arpeggiated synths, relentlessly thumping beats, an infectious hook and mantra-like lyrics delivered with an icy and ironic detachment. Unlike his previous released Pleasure Motel work, “Love Songs” may arguably be among the sleaziest and most debauched songs of his growing catalog. And if doesn’t stir lust deep in your loins and in the reptile brain, there’s something wrong with you. 

The recently released video is split between sensual, black and white stock footage of young couples making out and hooking up, and sleazy red-filtered footage of a sunglasses wearing Tudi singing the song’s lyrics. The visual manages to continue the project’s DIY ethos  — cheap, fast, sleazy.  

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Prettiest Eyes Pay Homage to John Carpenter in Visual for “Mr. President”

Over the past few years, I’ve written a bit about the Los Angeles-based synth punk act Prettiest Eyes, and as you may recall the act which is comprised of San Juan, Puerto Rico-born, Los Angeles, CA-based founding members Pachy Garcia (drums, vocals), and Marcos Rodriguez (bass, vocals) along with Ciudad Juarez, Mexico-born, Los Angeles, CA-based Paco Casanova (keys, synths vocals) can trace their origins back to San Juan, where the band’s founding members played in a number of local bands before relocating to Los Angeles to seriously pursue music. Casanova independently relocated to Los Angeles and joined the band to complete its lineup. And with the release of a couple of EPs and their first two albums,  2015’s Looks and last year’s Pools, the Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays firmly established a reputation for crafting sleazy and primal synth punk that throbs with a muscular insistence.  

The band’s third full-length album, the aptly titled Vol. 3 was released earlier this year through Castle Face Records, and album single “Nekrodisco” was a off-center, post apocalyptic ripper, seemingly inspired by Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO!-era DEVO. Interestingly, the album’s first single “Mr. President” is a minimalist track centered around howled mantra-like lyrics, industrial clang and clatter and a relentless motorik groove that seethes with uncertainty and menace. 

Directed and edited by Andrew Frescas, the recently released video further emphasizes the song’s murkiness and menace — and interestingly enough, finds the video’s director and the band collaborating to pay homage to John Carpenter’s They Live!

New Video: Los Angeles Synth Punks Prettiest Eyes Release Sleazy VHS-Styled Visual for “Nekrodisco”

Comprised of San Juan, Puerto Rico-born, Los Angeles, CA-based Pachy Garcia (drums, vocals), San Juan Puerto Rico-born, Los Angeles-based Marcos Rodriguez (bass, vocals) and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico-born, Los Angeles, CA-based Paco Casanova (keys, synths vocals), the Los Angeles-based synth punk act Prettiest Eyes can trace their origins back to San Juan, where Garcia and Rodriguez played in a number of local bands before relocating to Los Angeles to seriously pursue music. Rodriguez relocated independently and joined the band — and within their first couple of years together, the act released a couple of EPs and a couple of albums, including 2015’s Looks and last year’s Pools. Both albums established the band’s growing reputation for crafting sleazy, primal, synth-based punk that throbs with a nasty, muscular insistence. 

The band’s third full-length album, the aptly titled Vol. 3 is slated for a June 24, 2019 release through Castle Face Records, and the album’s latest single “Nekrodisco” is a sleazy, cretinous stomp featuring  a muscular and insistent motorik-like, chugging groove, buzzing synths, Garcia’s vocal delivery, which alternates between shouted commands, whispers and howls paired with jagged hooks. And while the new track will further cement the Los Angeles-based synth punk act’s growing reputation for off-center, post-apocalyptic rippers, the track also manages to sound as though it were inspired by Q: Are We Men? A: We Are DEVO-era DEVO. Directed by Shane McKenzie, the recently released video is grainy, distorted VHS scuzz and snow, complete with the members of the band vamping and strutting throughout. 

Currently comprised of founding member Natalie Hoffman (vocals, guitar, synth) with Charlotte Watson (drums) and Madison Farmer (bass), the Memphis, TN-based punk rock  act Nots quickly rose to national prominence with the release of their full-length debut, 2014’s We Are Nots, an effort that sonically drew from 60s garage rock, 77-era punk, thrash punk, No Wave and New Wave. 2017’s sophomore effort Cosmetic found the act expanding upon the sound that first caught the attention of the blogosphere and elsewhere, while lyrically commenting on sociopolitical concerns — in particular, the album focused on the rough and complicated edges of desire, deceit and distortions. and how they impact appearances and your sense of reality.

Last year, the band went through a significant lineup change with longtime keyboardist Alexandra Hoffman leaving the band. Understandably, the threat of the band losing Eastburn’s hammering synth progressions resulted in some growing pains for the band. But when the newly constituted trio arrived at Bunker Audio to recored material with their longtime friend, collaborator and engineer, Andrew McCalla, each member fully embracing the band’s new identity and approach. Rather than completely abandon the noisy synth attack aspect of their sound, Hoffman decided to take up synths. Slated for a May 10, 2019 release through their longtime label home Goner Records, the band’s forthcoming album, the aptly titled 3 should be seen and understood as something altogether different from its predecessors.”Once we really leaned into the space that being a three-piece afforded us, our writing started to make better sense and connect,” the band’s Natalie Hoffmann explains in press notes. “It made for a more interesting record than if we stayed comfortable and safe in the way we were writing.”

Reportedly through the entire album, the band explores themes of lost control, societal division and strife, the loss of reality in performance and how exhausting it can be to navigate the blurry lines between playing an actor/performer and playing human. And while continuing in a similar heady thematic space as its predecessor, the band’s forthcoming third album was recorded live — but with an intense, improvisational energy to the proceedings. 3’s first single, “Half-Painted House” is centered by a propulsive bass line, wild squealing feedback and synths, shouted lyrics, shouted lyrics and a mosh pit friendly hook — and while bearing a resemblance to Cosmetic, the hypnotic track may arguably be one of the darker songs they’ve released to date, as the song is “about being stuck in a haze of repetitive cycles while change proves to be both stubborn and elusive. The veneer of what it looks like to be ‘normally functioning’ during these tumultuous times is peeling to reveal a mind struggling to keep from turning against itself,” Hoffman explains in press notes.

Nots have confirmed a handful of SXSW sets and a couple of live shows. There will be more coming in the near future; but in the meantime, check out the live dates below.

Live Dates: 
 
3/14: Austin, TX – Levitation – Hotel Vegas – 5:45PM
3/15: Austin, TX – She Shreds – Saraha Lounge – 1:20PM
3/15: Austin, TX – Goner Records – Beerland – 1:00AM

3/29: Memphis, TN – Bar DKDC

5/25 – Memphis, TN – B-Side Bar (Album Release Show)
More To Come…

New Audio: Acclaimed Act Thrice Releases An Anthemic Prog Rock-like Single

Comprised of founding members Dustin Kensrue (vocals, guitar) and Teppei Teranishi (guitar) with siblings Eddie Breckenridge (bass) and Riley Breckenridge (drums), the Irvine, CA-based rock band Thrice can trace their origins to its founding members meeting in high school and playing in a local band Chapter 11. When it came to starting their own project, Kensrue and Teranishi recruited Teranishi’s skate park buddy Eddie Breckenridge to play bass, and Breckenridge then brought his brother Riley to play drums, completing the band’s lineup. As the story goes, before their first show they realized that they needed name, and hard-pressed, they decided on going with Thrice, an inside joke between the bandmembers out of desperation. Although they had intended the name to be a temporary one, they began to gain fans and people started to associate them with it, so they were forced to stay with it.

In 1999, the band released the First Impressions EP, which was recorded during a twos-day session at A-Room Studios with Brian Tochilin. Only 1,000 copies were made and the individual bandmembers sold them out of their cars. Working with Death by Stereo’s Paul Miner, the Irvine, CA-based quartet recorded 12 tracks, which eventually became their 2000 full-length debut Identity Crisis, which was released through Greenflag Records. A portion of the album’s proceeds were donated to Crittenton Services for Children and Family, and with growing local buzz, the quartet caught the interest of Hopeless/Sub City’s Louis Posen, who eventually signed the band, and reissued Identity Crisis. To support the album the band toured with the likes of Samiam, Midtown and Hot Rod Circuit.

February 2002 saw the release of the band’s Brian McTernan-produced Hopeless/Sub City debut, The Illusion of Safety. Much like its predecessor, the band donated a portion of the album’s proceeds to a non-profit youth shelter in South Central Los Angeles, A Place Called Home, with the label matching all donations. The album received generally positive reviews and after tours opening for Further Seems Forever and Face to Face, followed by their first headlining tour, Thrice won the attention of several major labels, including Island Records, who signed the band, after agreeing to match the band’s charitable donations in the same fashion as Hopeless/Sub City. After signing with Island Records, the band toured with Hot Water Music and Coheed and Cambria before returning to the studio.

Interestingly with the release of 2002’s Illusion of Safety and 2003’s The Artist in the Ambulance, the band developed a reputation for a fast and punishing math rock-like sound centered around heavily distorted power chords, rapid time signature changes; however, with 2005’s Vheissu, the members of Thrice began incorporating synths, electronic beats and a much more experimental approach to their songwriting that continued through 2007 and 2008 with the release of The Alchemy Index, two albums that actually consisted of a 4-part, 24 song cycle, with each of the four 6-song EPs featuring significantly different styles based on the classical elements of fire, water, air and earth both lyrically and musically. 2009’s Beggars and 2011’s Major/Minor found the band continuing to refine their experimentation and exploration of their sound; but after the release of Major/Minor, Thrice announced a final tour and a hiatus.

In 2015, Kensrue and Teranishi decided to reform the band, and by the following year, they released their first album in four years, 2016’s To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere.  Slated for a September 14, 2018 release through Epitaph Records, the band’s tenth full-length album Palms is their second post-reunion album, and the album which was co-produced by the band and Eric Palmquist reportedly finds the band’s sound encompassing everything from post-hardcore to piano-driven ballads, making it arguably the most sonically expansive album of their careers to date. Interestingly, the album’s latest single, the prog rock-like mid-tempo “Only Us” is centered around pulsating synths, enormous power chord-led guitar riffs, an arena rock friendly hook and Kensrue’s plaintive and earnest vocals. As the band’s Dusin Kensrue explains in press notes. “‘Only Us’ came from thinking about how easily we’re so divided into ‘us’ and ‘them’ when really we have an inherent ability to care for those in our group, and the parameters for who falls into that group are extremely flexible. It’s about how the things that we think separate us are actually inconsequential, and if we could broaden the idea of ‘us’ to include all people, it would help us build a more loving and civil society. “

Over the course of last year, I wrote about the  Los Angeles, CA-based post-punk act Sextile and since its formation back in 2015, the band has earned a devout following thanks to a reputation for an explosive live show and non-stop touring as either a headliner or opener with the likes of A Place to Bury Strangers, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, The Soft Moon, Ought, ADULT., The Chameleons, Modern English and others — and they’ve played sets at Bersekertown, Cloak & Dagger and Levitation Festivals.
Now, since I’ve last written about them, the act has gone through a massive lineup change that finds the act as a duo featuring Brady Keehn and Melissa Scaduto. And as a result of the lineup changes, the project has shifted towards a decidedly minimalist approach with the duo of Kehn and Scaduto favoring the use of synths over guitars — although with their forthcoming self-recorded, forthcoming EP3 the duo employ the use of a KORG MS-10, a sequencer, a Fender Stratocaster, a LinnDrum and various other percussion-based instruments. The duo also cite futurist Luigi Russolo’s The Art of Noises as an influence on their approach, as their sound and songwriting is meant to evoke and mirror the chaos and brutality of the industrial era; in fact, the EP’s latest single “Spun” is centered around explosive squealing bursts of guitar, scorching synths, thumping beats, industrial clang and clatter and a motorik-ike groove, and it some way the song finds the band meshing the aesthetics of Gang of Four and classic DFA Records (i.e., LCD Soundsystem and The Rapture) — although the song subtly hits at Bay City Rollers‘ “Saturday Night,” thanks to its punchily delivered vocals.  Sonically, the song manages to evoke a civilization gone absolutely mad, inching itself closer to apocalypse — but dancing on its way to the end.

 

The duo of Kehn and Scaduto will be on a lengthy tour to support their new EP. Check out the tour dates below. .

Tour Dates
09.13 Glasgow, UK @ Broadcast
09.14 Newcastle, UK @ Underground
09.15 Manchester, UK @ Soup Kitchen
09.16 Birmingham, UK @ The Cuban Embassy
09.18 London, UK @ Electrowerkz
09.19 Brighton, UK @ The Hope & Ruin
09.20 Portsmouth, UK @ The Edge Of The Wedge
09.21 Le Havre, FR @ Mc Daids
09.22 Angers, FR @ Levitation Festival
09.23 Lyon, FR @ Le Farmer
09.24 Limoges, FR @ El doggo
09.25 Landgraaf, NL @ Oefenbunker
09.26 Antwerp, BE @ TRIX
09.27 Paris, FR @ La Station
09.28 Hamburg, DE @ Karatekeller
09.29 Berlin, DE @ Urban Spree
10.02 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall ~
10.03 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall ~
10.12 – 14 Moreno Valley, CA @ Desert Daze